We live in wine country. I didn't really know how incredible that was or would be until we arrived. I am not in any way a wine connoisseur, but I really love the beauty of the vines.
Oh man, the vineyards get me every time.
I may have been known to pull over a time or two just to walk up the vines and touch the grapes. We arrived October 1st, just in time for harvest. The colors were breathtaking and the fruit was heavy and ready.
Then I memorized John 15... and now I really, really love grapevines. Just imagine for a second... our sweet Jesus standing in a vineyard, surrounded by this astounding beauty and bounty, the branches drooping beneath the weight of the ripening fruit. It is here that Christ is going to make a powerful illustration about our desperate need for Him. Beautiful. Simply amazing.
Anyway, a dear woman who has been our realtor and has become a sweet friend, also has vineyards. She has for more than thirty five years and now runs them with her sons-in-laws after her husband's passing a few years ago. This year was a bumper crop. While this is cause for celebration usually, the wineries are full from last year's unusually bountiful crop and our dear friend had thirty tons of grapes sitting unsold in the trucks. First time ever. She was discouraged, but said, "I hold it all loosely. It is all from God and for God. He gives and takes. That's what I learned when my husband died. He always provides, even in the pain and the loss. This time will be no different."
This came on the same day as the much anticipated offer on our house. We were so excited about another family loving the house, making memories there and filling the halls with laughter again. We were excited to sell it and move forward in our housing here. We were excited to reap some of the financial blessing of nine years of grueling home renovation. Then the offer came. It was so awful that it was insulting. In a rush of emotions from the anticipation of signing a purchase agreement, I felt as though I had been kicked in the gut and I rejected it off hand. Just a couple of hours later we were looking at houses with our realtor and I didn't even want to get out of the car. "What's the point?" I wondered. "We're going to be in the motor home forever." I ended up sharing my disappointment with Diane and she shared the story of her day... and the fifteen tons of grapes that were attracting fruit flies rather than a buyer. Boy, did I know how that felt.
We decided to pray for each other.
It was such a relief to pray about someone else's need rather than our own for a change. I began to pray fervently that her grapes would sell. I ran into her a couple of days later in the grocery and she still didn't have a buyer. "They're God's grapes, not mine," she said. "I just rest there."
THERE IS RELIEF IN KNOWING THAT GOD HAS A PURPOSE IN THIS PROCESS OF PRUNING AND WAITING AND CHALLENGE.
Friday, Jon came in from work carrying a full box of nothing else but sweet grapes.
They were from Diane's vineyards. As she dropped them off with Jon at work, she mentioned that she had a buyer.
God sold her grapes!
As I sat in the sunshine eating grapes and skyping a dear Minnesota friend, I thought about the abundance of life. We have passed out grapes to our neighbors here at the campground. We are 'monthlies' : people that stay for more than the weekend. One guy has been here since February, another since July and another family since the end of August. They were all happy to receive such a great gift.
As Diane had bounty, even in her trials, she shared with us. It was fun to pass them around and to groan as we ate these freshly harvested, never-been-in-a-truck-or-dirty-warehouse grapes.
We may live in a motor home, but we have so much extra that there is plenty to go around.
Because that is how God is...
abundant life, even in a 30' motor home.
"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit for apart from me you can do nothing... As my Father has loved Me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you and your joy may be full." ~Jesus ChristJohn 15:5, 9, 11
"Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put in your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you."~Jesus ChristLuke 6:38